Senior Congress leader Ramesh Chennithala on Tuesday courted controversy with his remarks about a rape incident in Kerala, with state Health Minister K K Shailaja and the women’s commission chief asking him to apologise and withdraw the remarks.
The crime relates to the rape of a woman, allegedly by a health inspector, when she went to his residence to collect a no-Covid certificate on completion of her quarantine.
Chennithala’s remarks came after Tuesday’s UDF meeting, when a reporter asked him if the accused is an active worker of an organisation of health inspectors affiliated to Congress’s NGO Association. In reply, Chennithala said: “Is it written anywhere that only DYFI (CPI-M youth wing) people can rape? You are telling a lie that the health inspector is a Congressman, an NGO Association man… What I got from the people is that he belongs to the NGO Union (affiliated to the CPI-M).”
While the remark triggered a flood of protest on social media, Shailaja demanded an apology. “Those insulting women would not be tolerated in the health department,” she stated. State women’s panel chief M C Josephine also tweeted her demand for an apology.
Chennithala later said his words were misconstrued by “CPI(M) cyber goons”. He said, “What I meant was that not only DFYI, but NGO Union people are also raping… there should not be any kind of atrocities against women. The controversy is a bid to divert public attention from sexual exploitation of Covid-19 patients.”